Culture and Ece Service in Nz

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Providing culturally competent care in early childhood services in New Zealand Part 3 : Parents' experiences of different early childhood pedagogies

Parents’ experiences of different pedagogies
Lisa Terreni In Providing culturally competent care in early childhood services in New Zealand -Part 2: Developing dialogues, strategies were presented for practitioners to engage in meaningful dialogue with parents and families. It was argued that on-going dialogue is the most successful way for teachers to begin to ‘unpack’ the early childhood programme for parents, as well as helping early childhood practitioners discover the beliefs and experiences that parents from different cultural backgrounds bring to their new encounter with early childhood programmes in New Zealand. Families who migrate to New Zealand have often had experiences of early childhood education programmes in their countries of origin. Their previous experiences of early childhood pedagogy are sometimes quite different from that practiced in New Zealand. Discovering these differences by talking with parents can be illuminating and can highlight areas of potential discomfort for both parents and practitioners. For the purposes of this paper I interviewed three parents from different cultural backgrounds who have had experience of early childhood services in their countries of origin and whose children have also attended early childhood services in New Zealand. At the end of each interview there is an analysis of points of difference that practitioners may want to consider as topics for discussion with parents.

An early childhood experience in Jordan Mohammed Shubair, his wife and three children came to New Zealand in 1996 from Jordan. Mohammed, a trained medical doctor who had practiced medicine in Jordan for many years, came to New Zealand because of job opportunities and the volatile political situation in the Middle East. Was the kindergarten your children went to in Jordan significantly different from the educational environment you found when you came to New Zealand? “Yes it was! Of course the first big thing was the language difference. The kindergarten in Jordan did not have the freedom as the kindergartens do here. In the kindergarten in Jordan the kids cannot draw and spoil their clothes, get wet and dirty with the sand and everything. In Jordan they are not allowed to do this. The other thing is going on trips and to museums. In Jordan we don’t have those facilities available… At the kindergarten they used to teach the children English words…In our country we teach Arabic and English.” You described how the kindergarten in Jordan did not have messy activities. How was it for you coming into a kindergarten in New Zealand that allowed these activities?

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“We were so surprised actually because in Jordan when I finished my work and I would go and pick them [the children] up from the kindergarten and I would wait five or ten minutes outside because maybe Lana’s hair is not brushed well or she has some food or stains on her so the teachers would not allow me to take Lana home in this way! When we arrived in New Zealand and our children started kindergarten my wife was so surprised and said, “Look they are wet all over, and all stained!”. We asked our friends “why are they allowing this?”, especially as you know how my kids they love the water, especially Hala! Everyday when she came home from the kindy she was all wet and we had to change all her clothes. Well, in our country they are not allowed to do those things!” Did this upset you? “Yes, because we have to change their clothes and at home we try to keep them tidy and clean. But when we find that all the other people do the same thing then it was a problem just for us…but not any more! I think it the programme should be explored with the family and it’s a good idea to interview the family… not just to enrol like I did. It is very important to sit with the family and say well we do this and...
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